JM Barrie now seen as "a monster"

Gilbo; Aug 10 2008
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A Comment on "How bad was J.M. Barrie?"

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Grotesque! The capacity to see evil everywhere and in everything never ceases to astonish me. The views expounded here are derived from patently a-historical pop psychology, in particular failing to take into account social conditions in England in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars and the long period of economic depression which followed, leading themselves to a fundamental moral transformation in English society very much focused on children, child welfare, and of relevance here to romantic notions of children and childhood. The period was replete with images of children as supernatural, as cherubim and seraphim, especially nude or near nude as exemplifying the ideal.

Barrie was merely part of the period, especially as a playwrite merely another featuring idealised children as backdrop to contemporary drama. What I would say about Barrie, is that his play Peter Pan is not merely escapist literature, but an intelligent and finely crafted critique of the romantic ideal, especially concerned with showing the reality of childhood and the dark tricks of which children are capable. When the statue of Peter Pan was finally unveiled in Hyde Park, he rejected it commenting that it had failed to properly capture his evil side.

For the remainder, there is no doubt that the Davies children suffered later in life not because of any dealings with Barrie, but by their own statements because they were hounded so by the popular press, and in consequence never allowed to develop their own adult identity and have their adult accomplishments properly acknowledged.

In short, in contemporary jargon they had become type-cast, like any actor unable to escape from the character/s they had portrayed as children in what was essentially popular theatre of the day. Barrie himself was merely at odds with the period itself. His was an intelligent and thought-provoking criticism, lost among the vast unthinking Victorian Romanticism, and I would guess greatly frustrated that his audience had simply viewed the play itself as romantic, and missed the point entirely.

I get the same thing here today in Western Australia, the place still stuck there in a time warp, an odd outpost of 19C ideology, almost afraid to bring itself into the 21C which is probably much like this current crop of anti-paedophile hysterics coming to live here as unable to see the dark, evil side of children's intentions at times toward adults.